Cannabis is known to give its users some grandiose ideas, and has even been given mythical origins, but new archeological evidence suggests that even the wheel may have been invented by one of three ancient tribes known for smuggling pot across borders during the Bronze Age.
Some believe pot was first used during the Shang Dynasty, between 1200 B.C. and 1050 B.C., (the Shang and Zhou Dynasties were known as the Bronze Age of China) when oracles carved symbols on bones and turtle shells suggesting so, and while the Chinese deserve some credit for popularizing this medicinal herb, researchers are finding that cannabis was used even earlier.
The Bronze Age took place largely across Egypt around 3000 B.C. It was during this time that civilizations first established far-reaching networks – meaning pot smugglers would have had customers far and wide during this era. Evidence suggests that along with getting stoned, these stone-aged travelers may have also invented the wheel.
Tengwen Long and Pavel Tarasov from the Free University of Berlin compiled evidence of ancient cannabis use from archeological digs to hopefully observing any interesting trends. Previous evidence suggested that cultures in Western Europe and Japan started using cannabis at the same time – approximately 10,000 years ago, but Long and Tarasov came to a different conclusion.
Long suggests that the scattered availability of the use of cannabis in East Asia are no accident. Cannabis use for everything from textiles to the smoked herb began to intensify at the same time that a group of nomadic pastoralists began riding their horses across the Eurasian Steppe. As trade routes were established between the East and West, eventually becoming the Silk Road, cannabis was spread. You can see the same trend with cannabis as with wheat crops.Wheat was first cultivated 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, and didn’t spread into China until the appearance of the trade routes that the pot smugglers likely helped establish.
These “proto-Indo-European” travelers, named the Yamnaya, likely spread their knowledge of other tools besides cannabis, including the wheel. They used cannabis for many things – from making rope to getting ‘high’ during rituals, and healing their medical ailments.
As High Times explains:
“The earliest written account of anyone smoking cannabis comes from the Greek historian Herodotus, who reportedly smoked cannabis on the Crimean Peninsula with the Scythians. In Herodotus’ own words:
“The Scythians put the Seeds of this ‘hemp’ under the bags, upon the burning stones; and immediately a more agreeable vapor is emitted than from the incense burnt in Greece. The Company extremely transported with the scent, howl aloud.””
It just so happens that the Scythians lived in the same areas as the Yamnaya that came before them. Their use of pot was likely passed down from generations preceding them.
Photo courtesy: The Weed Street Journal
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